Saturday, April 07, 2012

Fifteen ways of Looking at a Lapwing

"The secret of the lapwing is, disguise the secret."
(Robert Graves, The White Goddess)

The Lapwing is hopping across the grass
Its play of a broken wing convincing all critics
And attracting them away from the nest.

Small black eyes peering out of the hedgerow
Constant patrols to secure the perimeter
Lacking any defensive capability beyond the wing trick
The Lapwing scans the sky for signs of hope

We will summon all of our resources
And those of our allies
Spy satellites the size of pickups
Will gently rotate and re-focus
 Ballistic, sub-orbital Spy planes will fly overhead taking 10,000 pictures a second
Glittering machines
The size and shape of spiders
Will skitter through the hedgerow Looking for the nest

To be the first to fly across the field of broken bones
And see the roadway of shards the dead will walk upon
To fly across, along, up

Against a sky that looks as though
The blue were matte paint
Hastily slapped on the heavens
The Lapwing cuts lines and curves,
Tying the sky together with grace.

In the land of screaming birds space is only direction, not distance
Time is stretched to an endless glowing moment
There are no clouds, just a blue mist
Overlain with the patina of infinity
That mortal eyes never see
The delicate white crackling, the evidence of vast age
Black dots skim across

The evidence of age, the skimming black dots
In the land of screaming birds each dot is a bird with
Wings sewn together over its back, eyes pierced with
Needles, legs broken in multiple places
They fall forever Each a Lapwing who lost her nest

The meadow, blades of grass
A landscape of soil, ripe and scalloped by the rain
Steamy loam ready to take to a different kind of nest
Suddenly a wall of feathers descends
Huge and brown, iridescent, each brown drab feather
Somehow rippling deeply with colour
A light bomb exploding with colour like a tropical sunset
The wing scrapes overhead and is gone


The bird skims across the water like a skipping stone
Pursued by a snarl shaped like a fox.

Across the causeway Into the castle
Castle Perilous
Fifteen entered How many left?
None left but one

I could see the sparks rising in a fountain of speckled light
The old man's eyes black through the fire

Across the causeway
Under the ground
Castle Perilous
Eleven entered
How many left?
None left but one

I could see the stars spinning, a sprinkling of snow
Against soft black felt.
I remained silent

Across the causeway
Into the air
Castle Perilous
Seven entered
None left but one
But the six flew higher
Slipped along fault lines of sky
Saw the benevolent grinding
Of the millers stone
And only wanted to be chaff
To be blown away
And to fly higher
And the one that was left
Each time she fell
With a broken wing
What was her name?

I took my right hand cupped
Whispered a name into it
Made a holding fist
Threw the word across the fire Into his chest
He grunted and fell back slightly
Then smiled and across the fire
Threw the small sack from around his neck
I opened the bag and Gently spilled out the bones within
Slender tiny flutes from a small bird
Bone laid out on a stone in front of me I reached out to the fire
As did the old man I only knew from this bunker
Together we made a tear in the way things are

And opened a way to birdscreamingland
We own who we are
We all live forever
We all have a home
In birdscreamingland
Just one more black dot
Reach out and take
A Lapwing

Close the tear
Become mortal
Filled with sorrow
Fifteen breaks in her legs
Eleven needles in her eyes
Seven breaks in her wings

I give a week from my life and use the whole bones to heal hers, remove stitches and needles and throw into the air a small, brown, deceitful bundle of love.

These are the jokes - An Interlude

A Lapwing went to heaven
It was full of foxes
The Lapwing confused them all with graceful pirouettes on its' "good" wing and million mile an hour loops
No eggs were lost

When NASA decided to send a Lapwing to the Space Station they sent no eggs. The Lapwing adopted some spider eggs instead. It learned to loop and gyre in micro-gravity, teaching the baby spiders to spin the strange webs they spin in space. It tried to lure away the bits of cosmic radiation always hammering through the station. At this it was 100% successful. Unfortunately the scientists weren't watching. The spiders grew up happy, well-adjusted and expert web makers

birdscreamingland would be prime real estate if it weren't for all the needles

All Lapwings have subscriptions to People magazine. It makes excellent nesting material.

I once had a world in box
Speckled blue, the size of your fist
Resting on aromatic wood shavings
I can smell them now as I sit in my dark cell
I smashed it, I was only a child
I dropped it from a top floor window
It shattered and out came a drab brown bird
It flew high, then higher then disappeared

We all get one world and every world gets a bird
To warn other birds of a new predator
To be lured away from the speckled blue eggs

Augury is the art of telling fortunes by watching the flight of birds
The Lapwings' flight always tells of the same future
A future of great peril and unselfish sacrifice
This prediction is always correct

A piece of magic, a faked broken wing
It's love, pure. simple, a sight that lingers

Sentimentality aside, how could
This be anything but a mothers love

To pull along on a leash of weakness
The predator, a task that's endless

Again sentimental, but no surprise
There, where success is achieved by lies

"Hide the Secret" is such a human trait
When the opposition force is too great

To distract, to hide, to make things appear
Other than they are, learn to make a tear

In the way things are, and slip through a wing
Save the young, pull a fast one on the thromg

Of those who would hurt you or your young, but
How could evolution, blind, cause such love

The slow grind of mechanistic forces?
Or a benevolent creators courses?

We should know by now that often love is
A blind mechanistic force, a habit, has

No purpose beyond its own selfish needs
And a creator had best stick to seeds

The fifteenth way of looking at a
Lapwing is for a gene to go and

Make copies of itself and fill the pool
Fighting all the other genes with a silent howl

The faked broken wing is a happy chance
The Lapwing itself a DNA dance
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